The Goddess Medusa: Myths, Symbols, & How To Work With Her


The legend of Medusa is well-known in Hellenic lore. It tells of a beautiful woman transformed into a gorgon: a hideous monster with venomous serpents for hair. The idea of encountering her was terrifying to the likes of men, for a single glance from her wide, yellow eyes would turn one to stone in an instant.

Let’s face it: Medusa is an intimidating presence, to say the least. Once worshiped as a goddess in ancient Rome, Medusa is again gaining traction as more and more women flock to her for her guidance in the ways of protection and fierce divine femininity.

A powerful figure commanding respect in times of adversity, the gorgon is not an entity to be trifled with. If you happen to find yourself on the wrong side of someone in Medusa’s favor, then you’ll want to make sure you’re well-protected for the vengeance that is to come.

Medusa In History & Myth:

There are a few different myths that include Medusa in Ancient Greek culture. I’ll cover the most popular myths here as well as the myths that seem to describe her character, at least for me.

1. The Basic Myth

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The story of Medusa first appeared in Ovid’s work. Medusa had always been the most beautiful of her sisters, and as such, Poseidon coveted her very much. A loving priestess to his sister Athena, Poseidon sought the goddess Medusa while she was praying in Athena’s temple and violated her.

Athena, angry that this could take place in her own temple, lashed out – taking out her wrath on Medusa by turning her into a terrifying gorgon, and casting a curse for breaking her vow of celibacy.

Now, with snakes for hair and a long serpentine body, what man would ever dare to look upon her? Much less, if any man did, then he would be instantly turned into a statue and doomed to an eternity in stone.

This is the most basic story that tells how Medusa first got the hair of snakes that most of you are probably familiar with today. However, it’s important to note that earlier myths of Medusa (such as that told by Homer) actually have no mention of Athena at all. 

Nowadays, many scholars feel that this tale may have been warped over time and that we shouldn’t take the “female monster at face value.”

2. An Alternate Tale

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In an alternate story of Medusa, was the curse from Athena really a curse? The initial telling of this myth depicts Medusa acting out in anger and Athena punishing her.

Instead, many modern-day witches now interpret Athena’s response as one from a place of understanding and concern. After all, Medusa took a vow of celibacy – she never wanted to be touched in the first place.

Athena then gifts Medusa with a special weapon that frees her from the possibility of ever suffering such an assault ever again. From then on, men would fear the very sight of her, and Medusa would be protected from the unwanted touch of them. She wouldn’t have to deal with any dirty looks from men, ever again! It almost sounds like a win-win, to me.

I recently spoke with a group of friends who are all on board with this idea, so who knows: maybe it’s true! I personally feel that the energy of Athena allies with Medusa. I also think that Medusa wanted the power of the snakes; though the transition may have been difficult, she probably chose to live this life of protection. Medusa is all about finding your own inner power and using it, so this reading has always made sense to me.

3. The Beheading Of Medusa

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In another popular myth about the story of Medusa, the so-called hero Perseus was sent to slay Medusa. As the gods were well aware of this, they gifted to him an array of wondrous items to help him in his task.

From Athena, Perseus received a mirrored shield. Through this shield, Perseus was able to see Medusa through her reflection, which ultimately allowed him the opportunity to approach Medusa and slice through her neck.

When Perseus cut off her head, Medusa died and gave birth to the winged horse Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor through the wound in her neck. He then returned to the goddess Athena with Medusa’s head, which she mounted to her shield so that any foes she encountered on the battlefield would then be turned to stone.

From this telling, it’s hard to imagine that Athena had good intentions in mind, but one thing to consider is that Perseus was being sent out by none other than King Polydectes of Seriphus. This may not ring a bell to you, but let’s just say it’s the guy that wanted to marry Perseus’ mother.

This leads us to our final point: Perseus wasn’t supposed to survive his encounter with Medusa. He was being led away as a distraction – and potentially to his death!

Because of this, some may argue that Athena didn’t know what she was doing in giving away that shield. Combined with the gifts of Hades, Hephaestus, and Hermes, however, the “protagonist” of this story was certainly given a keen advantage before he was sent off to slay the so-called monster.

To make matters worse, in the works of ancient Greek artist Polygnotos, Perseus is shown cutting off Medusa’s head while she lay sleeping, further highlighting the absolute cowardice of this champion of the gods.

No matter the point-of-view you believe of these tales, there is one common theme: Medusa befalls tragedies that no woman or man should have to suffer. As a result, she is persecuted further by the very gods she sought to serve.

Her rage is unmet, and her ferocity is as deep and as strong as the seas. It is the tale of the deep cut of society’s knife: creating, blaming, and demonizing the victim for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That’s not to say that Medusa exactly encourages victimization. She’s not super soft to work with and she probably won’t let you loll around. Instead, she’ll push you to find your inner power and actually use it to change your life.

Medusa’s Appearance:

Though most of you probably know all about Medusa’s typical appearance (the head full of snakes), there are a few variations on Medusa’s appearance in lore.

Medusa The Maiden

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It’s said that Medusa was incredibly beautiful before she was transformed. She has been described by the Poet Ovid as having a beautiful face and long, flowing hair.

Another Greek poet, Pindar, noted that she was “fair-cheeked”. Many still wrote of the maiden as a seductress despite her chastity bonds. However, once transformed, Medusa’s appearance tremendously changed.

Medusa The Gorgon

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Gorgons are described as winged serpentine creatures. Their bodies are covered in scales and they have large, round heads with snakes sprouting from them instead of hair. Some poets even went so far as to describe their boar-like tusks and massive lolling tongue. Their large eyes are not often remembered, for they transform you to stone at a moment’s glance.

Medusa’s Powers:

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Medusa was a worshiper of Athena and a guardian of her temple. She is astute in the ways of protection and lends her guardianship to those who need her most. The meaning of Medusa is powerful.

Born of the sea gods Phorcys and Ceto, it is often forgotten that Medusa herself is a goddess of the sea. Her domain encompasses all bodies of water, and her rage is as powerful as the most ravenous hurricane. Call upon Medusa when her ire is most fitting. Strike vengeance together with her strength.

Let’s not forget her most famous power: the ability to turn men to stone. It’s important to note that throughout all the myths of epic poems, there are no records of her ever turning any woman to stone with her deadly gaze. Were women spared because Medusa didn’t intend to hurt them? Maybe Medusa’s true powers lie in the shadow feminine, taking vengeance upon those who have taken advantage of women and binding those who intend to do them harm.

She is also a goddess of femininity, fertility, and menstruation. Medusa’s power extends to those who need aid in these areas, so seek her out if you’re looking for guidance while trying to conceive or experiencing any sort of reproductive health issues. (That said, if you are experiencing troubling symptoms, consult your doctor. Spiritual practice is never an acceptable alternative for taking proper care of your health.)

Lastly, the meaning of Medusa helps us through difficult transformations. Having experienced a few herself, she knows what it’s like to have to change everything about yourself – sometimes in ways that everyone else perceives in a negative light – in order to save yourself and move on from hard times.

Medusa has also experienced another unexpected transformation over time. As the interpretations of her story are better understood through a lens of empathy and empowerment, the general public’s opinion of the goddess has also shifted with the times. Medusa is now accepted as a symbol of female empowerment, divine rage, and justice.

Is Medusa Real?

If you’re considering working with the Goddess Medusa then you probably want to know whether or not she’s real.

In my mind, Medusa is very real. I believe that deities exist in slightly different dimensions/realms yet their power extends to where we currently reside.

However, some witches prefer to work with the figure of Medusa as an idea rather than a real deity. Do what feels right to you!

How Do You Know If Medusa Is Calling To You?

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Although you can theoretically call upon a deity with extensive amounts of worship, deities often reach out to us when they want to work with us.

The Goddess Medusa tends to reach out in very subtle ways. It can be difficult to determine if she is the entity reaching out to you, but there are a few specific tells.

Some of the indicators that Medusa is reaching out to you include:

1. You dream of the Goddess Medusa. You may see Medusa herself or some of her common symbols in your dreams, such as snakes.Artistic representations of Medusa find their way to you. You’ve been encountering statues and paintings of Medusa in your daily travels or receiving them as gifts.

2. You are recovering from domestic violence. This is by no means a requirement for working with Medusa – it’s simply a reason that she may empathize with you and want to form a deeper connection. You may also feel controlled in a more mental or emotional way (rather than physical) and seek your independence. The Goddess Medusa loves to help her children find their own ways of breaking free!

3. You are sought out by snakes. Some who work with Medusa say that they were approached by some of her pets, injured or otherwise in need. This can be a really direct sign that Medusa wants to be in your life.

4. You feel called to stand up for yourself. If the idea that you need to do more to make the world a safer place has been a prevalent notion for some time, then it’s time to embrace the spirit of Medusa and act on it. Medusa is all about channeling your inner strength and being the unabashed outcast. This probably means that you really feel like the outcast in some way (not necessarily social or political but on a deep, personal, soul level). If this is the case, then consider that the Goddess Medusa can help you learn how to embrace the unconventional parts of your soul.

In my experience, Medusa is very patient when she reaches out to someone she wants to work with. She will wait until you recognize the signs, so don’t worry about missing these indicators.

How To Work With The Goddess Medusa:

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Medusa may have been worshiped as a goddess in ancient times, but she is not an oft-worshiped deity today, so information on working with her in this sense is hard to come by. Most of this is personal experience so keep in mind that you’ll need to tailor your own worship to fit your beliefs, lifestyle, and needs!

The Goddess Medusa is a known guardian and as such, lends her aid to those who need her protection. If you are seeking aid or guardianship after a domestic dispute, evoke the power of Medusa. With her attested ability to turn men to stone, Medusa assists in bindings, particularly binding those who pose a threat to women.

She is also an intense force for justice and female empowerment. Call upon Medusa when you need the strength to challenge your enemies, to face your fears, or to hex your abusers. When it is time, hold fast her rage and take no mercy.

She’s definitely a deity who can teach you how to stick up for yourself and fight back! This doesn’t need to be in huge ways. Maybe you feel somewhat controlled by others or even just stuck in a role that you no longer want. The Goddess Medusa can help you break free from your chains.

I find that the most important thing Medusa will teach you is how to use your power. She’ll show you that you don’t need to be afraid of power and that the innate power you have inside of you is already strong and beautiful; you simply need to learn how to use it. All she asks is that you become the best and most powerful version of yourself.

Finally, Medusa is a sea goddess. As such, her realm covers all water-related magic, sea and storm witches, sailors, and the like. Ask for this goddess’s guidance when you need strong feminine power and the innately intuitive energy of water in your rituals.

Devotional Acts To Medusa

Perform a self-care ritual. Connect with Medusa’s element, water, by performing a ritual bath or something of the like.

Dedicate altar space to Medusa. You can dedicate seashells, jewelry, candles, art, and other trinkets to Medusa in order to create a special place for her on your altar.

Sculpt a statue of Medusa for your altar. If this isn’t your preferred medium, then creating any sort of art for Medusa is perfectly fine. You can also source wonderful Medusa art and statues on Etsy and put those in a dedicated spot. 

Read about Medusa in literature. Take a deeper dive into the epic poems that tell the stories of Medusa. This is a good starting point when you want to connect with her.

Reflect and meditate on what the actions and outcomes of these stories mean to you. You can connect to Medusa on a deeper level by meditating near the beach or a body of water encircled with calming sounds.

Stand up for women’s rights. How can you change the world around you so that women can be better protected from tragedies like these? Do this in a way that feels authentic to you. In my experience, Medusa doesn’t care too much about the social or political climates. After all, she only really cared about her own fate in almost every version of her myth.

Usually, when she reaches out, she’s looking to work with you in particular based on your past traumatic experiences. 

Offerings For Medusa

  • Seashells or coral
  • Hag stones
  • Depictions of serpents or snake figurines
  • Petrified wood
  • Sand dollars or starfish
  • Beach sand
  • Silver
  • Snakeskin that has been naturally shed
  • Aquamarine, malachite, or moonstone
  • Pearls
  • Seawater or sea salt
  • Cool water incense
  • Seafood
  • Wine

You can also dedicate any divination tools to Medusa that you plan on using while working with her. Just having a small amount of space to dedicate to an altar is a great way to start working with the gorgon.

Working With Medusa

If you’re just getting going working with the Goddess Medusa, start small. Medusa comes to those who are in need, so she doesn’t expect a totally decked-out altar from her followers. You can simply offer her a devotional candle or a seashell.

Whether or not you’ve chosen to make an offering to the Goddess Medusa, be sure to directly ask her if she would like to work with you and wait for an answer. Be sure to keep a lookout for signs and symbols of the gorgon in the days thereafter, as she may approach you in subtle ways.

I recommend that you work with Medusa using a pendulum or cards if you’re new to divination work. She has really strong energy with the pendulum so you’ll definitely know when she’s around.

The goddess Medusa may also reveal herself in dreams or through symbols in life, such as the snake, or by sending other outcasts your way. Try sleeping with a symbol that represents the Goddess Medusa under your pillow if you want to connect during sleep. However, be really for some kind of intense imagery: Medusa isn’t for the faint of heart!

Symbols Of Medusa

  • Snakes, particularly two intertwined
  • Silver and green
  • Eyes
  • The Aegis: an image of Medusa’s head adorning Athena’s shield
  • “Divine eyes” – or Gorgon eyes, sometimes drawn as concentric circles or spirals.
  • Medusa herself is a symbol of feminism and divine femininity

If you have been seeing the symbols of Goddess Medusa and hearing the whispers, then this is your call to action.

Medusa doesn’t just choose anyone – she selected you because you are a warrior and because she wants you to learn how to stand up for yourself and fight back in one specific way. Rise to the occasion. 

It’s time to be the protectors and guardians that we all have needed at one time or another. And this is usually Medusa’s mission: to teach you how to protect yourself, your energy, and your soul.

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